Dear Ecumenical Colleagues,
Greetings to you all in the sweet name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
As the Moderator of the Church of North India, the President of NCCI and the Bishop of the Diocese of Jabalpur CNI, I like to express my best wishes to each one of you on this Christmas.
I would like to express my sincere thanks to my ecumenical colleagues for the Prayer and support during this year 2017 and for their prayers for the smooth running of the Executive Committee of NCCI.
We celebrated the 500th anniversary of Reformation. It was on 31st October 1517 that the great reformer Martin Luther nailed to the door of the Castle Church of Wittenberg, Germany his 95 theses which triggered the reformation process. His heart yearned for a drastic change of the system. He knew that transformation of the system was possible only through reformation. In line with the spirit of reformation I wish to title my message as “Incarnation for Transformation”.
My pivotal affirmation is that incarnation of Jesus Christ was the greatest transforming event in world history. It changed the course of history and the destiny of human beings. Therefore, I am considering the birth of Jesus Christ as “reformation” of God’s creation. Christmas story is more than the survival of a baby born in some very unfriendly conditions. Its message is about God taking control of the most difficult and threatening conditions of life and transforming them into experiences of enriching the life of the whole creation
In the present time we too experience similar conditions. The world is no more a safe place for living. In the market friendly commercial society money has become the measure of all things. The poor and the marginalized have no place in community.
The unity in Jesus Christ has become a distant dream. Ecumenism has gone into the winter of hibernation. The power gospel which offers salvation without suffering on the cross has captured the new generation. Churches have become self-centered clubs.
It is amidst such situations we are waiting upon the Lord to continue the transforming impact of incarnation.
The most important fact about Christmas is that God became a human being. “ The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1. 14). Jesus Christ became Immanuel, “God with us”. What we see here is reformation in the relationship between God and God’s people as well as God’s whole creation. God who was celestial and unseen became God on the earth and visible. The nearness of God made all the transformation. The impact of this transformation was very evident. God’s glory removed all darkness.” People who lived in the darkness saw a great light”. Several centuries of darkness caused by the absence of the Word of God was transformed by the Word becoming flesh. God became visible to all people. People no more walk in darkness. They are guided by the “light of the world”.
The birth of Jesus transformed the identity of human beings. So far, all the existing philosophies taught that human body was worthless. Now God has taken up human body and made it divine. This enhanced the dignity and value of human body and human life. Also, “behold, the Father has given us the privilege of being called as the children of God”. What a transformed status! Similarly, birth of Jesus gave a new and rich identity to the poor and the marginalized. He decided to be born as a poor and hapless child affirming solidarity with all those who are poor and marginalized. . The birth of Jesus as a child reassured the value of the children all over the world. These are days of increasing child abuse and trafficking. Jesus as a child is standing out as a moral challenge against all abusers. Even now our country and our churches have not given women the position they deserve. The birth of Jesus from a virgin’s womb has given women a glorious position which we have failed to understand.
Most of all the greatest transformation was the inclusion of the whole world in the net of God’s love. “For God loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3.16)
We affirm that the life of a follower of Jesus is the continuation of incarnation. That is, wherever we are, we become the presence of Jesus Christ. Our mission is to make the presence of God real in the life of the people with whom we are dealing. We live in the midst of people who are poor, sick, suffering and without purpose in life. We can make the “Immanuel presence” only by meeting the needs of the people in tender loving care.. As light of the world we have to do everything possible to remove darkness. We should promote peace and harmony in community. We need to enhance the dignity of women, children and the marginalized.
I am glad to see that NCCI is doing its ministry for the physically disabled (IDEA) for the protection of women and children as well as the for the enhancement of liberation of the Dalits, Tribals and Adivasi by being with them.
I request all the member churches and all other constituencies of NCCI to be present with people to respond to their needs and relating to them so that we will become the “incarnation” of Jesus Christ in their midst. With God we can transform all situations!
The Most Rev. Dr. P. C. Singh